Students at 10 Metro Vancouver secondary and post-secondary schools were urged to forgo meat May 15 as part of worldwide Meatless Monday, aimed at getting people thinking about the cost of meat production on the climate and on health.
At first it was a tough sell, but trivia challenges and tofu curry helped, said Jane Dong a student at David Thompson Secondary who organized Meatless Monday, as part of a global initiative to raise awareness about the benefits of plant-based diets.
"It was kind of hard at the start. A lot of people didn't want to give up their meat," said Dong who worked hard to interest fellow students in taste testing non-dairy milk and sampling fragrant vegetarian fare.
Meatless Mondays have caused some controversy with U.S. meat producers forcing the retraction of a United States Department of Agriculture plug for the campaign back in 2012.
But Canadian meat producers have been quieter about the campaign aimed at getting consumers to think about food choices to improve access to humane, healthy, sustainable food.
In 2013, Vancouver became the first Canadian city to try it out.
The aim was to suggest people consider plant-based foods and "reduce the demand for cheap meat that drives factory farming," said Emily Pickett, Vancouver Humane Society's program coordinator in a news release.
"The gas passed by beef creates a lot of damage to the climate," said Vancouver Coun. Adriane Carr, who kicked off the event held in 30 countries around the world.
Carr read a proclamation warning that the "over consumption of meat, dairy and eggs is associated with many major environmental problems, including climate change, worsened human health outcomes and animal welfare concerns."
Meat producers not protesting
Rory Holland, co-owner of Blue Sky Meats has no problem with Meatless Monday.
He hopes teens trying vegan or vegetarian fare for the first time twig to issues around food production, but he's not convinced simply giving up meat solves all the issues.
"I don't like anytime when there is a war on food," said Holland who markets ethically raised pork that's butchered then used to produce everything from pork chops to artisanal soaps.
The challenge, he says, is getting consumers to pay the true price of ethically-raised meat, when most just want the cheapest option.
"It's not so much what you eat, but where it comes from and how much you are paying for what you are putting in your mouth. Anything like a Meatless Monday — if it's going to cause somebody to pay more attention to how they eat — is fantastic!"